Bring Out Their Best: Encourage a Winning College Application Essay

Helping students with their college application essay can be a balancing act. You want their true voice to shine through, but you also want the essay to sound professional and promising.

The biggest role of counselors, parents and teachers is encouragement. Giving students the confidence to express themselves will help them write well and show their personality. But the essay must be the student’s own work – 100 percent written by them. Some colleges ask them to sign a statement guaranteeing that the writing is their own.

Reviewing an essay? Dealing with a student who has writer’s block? Here are some things to consider:

Student and counselorA Winning Topic

And by “winning,” we don’t necessary mean a chronicle of a student’s success. An essay should show a student’s character and reveal things that aren’t in the main application and on their transcript. Sometimes, that can mean writing about what they learned when things didn’t work out. Remind students that colleges are going to learn all about their accomplishments; the essay should show what makes them unique.

Students shouldn’t be afraid to get personal. After all, the most common human experiences can make the best essays.

Don’t Rush

Experts agree that students need to take time to create a good essay. Students must carefully go through the proper steps in the writing process: prepare a good outline, create a draft and proofread (and proofread again) the text.

Research, Research, Research

If a student writes about the college they’re applying to, they should make sure all the facts are correct! They want to show their enthusiasm for that particular school.  If they’re writing about a role model, they’ll be more convincing if they do their research.

Parental Involvement Alert

If you’re reviewing an essay, keep an eye for essays that obviously had too much parental “input.” Admissions officers can spot these. Authenticity counts!

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